english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Fashion Revolution Jane Tee

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

To celebrate this year’s Fashion Revolution Week (which took place 22 – 28 April) I decided I wanted to make a garment which lived up to the ethics and ideals of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to order fabric and sew a garment, so I thought I’d keep it simple with a slogan tee.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The fabric for this tee was a Cream Marl Viscose Blend Jersey from Offset Warehouse. Offset Warehouse describe it as made from sustainable fibres (40% Cotton, 30% Viscose and 30% Polyester) and reclaimed from a high end manufacturer in the UK and stopped from heading to landfill.

The jersey is very fine and soft, with a subtle marl effect. It’s slightly transparent, so I am wearing a slip underneath in these photos.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The pattern is the Seamwork Jane tee, which is a great loose fitting crew neck t-shirt pattern, and a perfect blank canvas for screenprinting (no darts). My measurements put me between an XS and S, but I cut a straight XS as there’s plenty of ease.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

For the text, I printed the ‘I made my clothes’ A4 poster from the Fashion Revolution website free resources section. To create a more stable stencil, I placed an A4 acetate sheet over the poster and cut out the lettering with a craft knife (I have a lifetime supply of acetate sheets as I took a box home from many work years ago, since they were gathering dust following overhead projectors being removed from classrooms). I screen-printed the text using black ink onto the pre-cut t-shirt front; I always use Permaset Supercover screen printing ink to print on fabric and find it really reliable, Fred Aldous stock it in the UK.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

These pictures were taken in Vietnam, predominantly in the Botanical Gardens and Zoo in Ho Chi Minh City. I hadn’t realised in advance that the gardens and zoo were one and the same – we were aiming for the gardens. The planting is frequently beautiful, but as a whole – as you can see in these photos – it’s somewhat run down and in need of investment. Great for some dramatic blog photo backdrops, but not great for the resident animals. I suspect it suffers the same fate as Vietnam’s museums, which also – on the whole – appear to be underfunded and, as a result, dusty and in varying states of neglect.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

P.S. my all time favourite zoo story, was that we were once in a zoo somewhere in Europe (I have forgotten which), and a huge crowd gathered to watch and photograph a sole red squirrel which was living (wild) in the zoo. That little squirrel managed to steal all the attention from the huge (caged) animals which were metres away.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

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Bombshell Swimsuit by the Seaside

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Phil and I have just arrived home from a couple of weeks in Vietnam. I packed a few new garments, which I’ll blog soon, and bought some fabric which I’ll blog too. I also packed some old favourites, including this Bombshell Swimsuit which I made (unbelievably to me, it feels like no time at all) four years ago.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

As noted on my original blog post about this swimsuit, I struggled a little when making it. I think those four years since have made all the difference to my sewing skills, and I suspect making my next swimsuit (probably the Closet Case Patterns Sophie) will go a lot smoother.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I don’t swim very often and I think this is the first time my Bombshell has been for a swim in the sea, so I thought it was fitting to take some photos. In addition to my sewing skills, my blog photography (and also my hair!) has improved since 2014, which seemed like another good reason to take some new photos. Plus I think it’s good to celebrate those garments which stay in our wardrobes long-term (as well as new makes) here on our blogs.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Enjoy the weekend. I’m going to go back to very slowly unpacking, and generally being lazy after a couple of busy weeks travelling and sightseeing.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit


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Pink Velvet, Zigzag & Ruffle Freya Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I do try to avoid buying fabric if I can’t immediately think of a project I want to make with it. This fabric, however, was one of the occasions when that logic went out of the window. On a whim (partly because it was cheap), I bought a large off-cut of this fabric from Birmingham Rag Market – a pink velvet knit with a large scale zigzag. The fabric has sat in my stash every since as I had no idea what on earth to do with it.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I only have a relatively small amount of knit fabrics, and this was one of my few dress length options, so I decided to give it a try in order to sew a Freya Dress (From Tilly & the Button’s Stretch) from stash fabric. I actually think it turned out pretty well, even though it looks somewhat circus themed, an impression the ruffle definitely adds to.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I graded between sizes 2 and 3, but will size up to a 3 throughout next time as I have limited ease at the bust and upper arms despite sewing a narrow seam allowance. I’m definitely going to sew the Freya Dress again (including that adorable ruffle) in an office appropriate fabric. For reference, I cut the fabric strip for my ruffle 74cm long (Tilly explains how to measure your preferred length rather than specifying a measurement).

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

These photos are the first blog photos I’ve ever taken myself (using my phone as a remote) as opposed to asking Phil to take them. They turned out ok, but I found it really hard not to frown with concentration, and it took so much longer. I’ll suspect I’ll go back to bothering Phil next time.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress


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Bibi Pinafore

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Before Tilly’s new book Stretch was released I decided that I wasn’t going to buy it, because:

  1. I have an addiction to buying sewing books, and I’m trying to reduce my purchasing frequency, since I rarely sew from them;
  2. I’m trying to mainly sew from stash since listing my existing fabric on the Cora app and realising that I do in fact normally have a suitable fabric for my next project. However, that stash is only 17% knit fabrics (thanks Cora app stats!).

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Inevitably, however, once I saw the patterns from Stretch being shared online by Tilly (namely the Bibi Pinafore & Freya Dress with ruffle) I quickly put in an order. I’m glad I did as it’s an excellent book and the projects are so satisfyingly quick to sew. This is absolutely the book I would recommend to an total  beginner, as there’s very little barrier to entry and the success rate of projects sewn from it is likely to be high.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

This is my first project from the book, the Bibi Pinafore in a stash fabric, a cable knit jersey from Higgs & Higgs. This jersey has a bit of body which is great for Bibi, although it has just enough stretch, i.e. it’s a slight squeeze to get on and off.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

There photos were taken yesterday in Digbeth, Birmingham. At the same time that a racist march was taking place elsewhere in the city (kudos to those who protested against it), the Independent Birmingham festival – a celebration of Birmingham’s independent and creative scene – was taking place in Digbeth.

Phil and I ate two main courses each from the street food vendors participating, and took fancy doughnuts home for afters.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

I love the diversity and – increasing – vibrancy of this city, and it was good to be at an event which celebrated that, and which was generally a fun place to be, at a time when a few idiots who feel threatened by it were promoting hate.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress


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Pink Asymmetric Gather Dress

The Maker's Atelier The Asymmetric Gather Dress

I’ve had a lovely quiet weekend at home, which included making this dress. This is the Asymmetric Gather Dress from the Maker’s Atelier, which was one of my favourite pattern releases of 2017.

The Maker's Atelier The Asymmetric Gather Dress

The Maker's Atelier The Asymmetric Gather Dress

Phil was out for dinner with friends on Saturday, so I had an afternoon to myself to sew. Despite inevitably getting distracted by podcasts/vlogs/Netflix, I had this dress completed before bed, and couldn’t resist getting some photos in the last of the snow today in our local park.

The Maker's Atelier The Asymmetric Gather Dress

The Maker's Atelier The Asymmetric Gather Dress

I graded between sizes 8 and 10. I think the fit is ok, but I’m going to increase the size of the gather at the front to make the dress slightly more fitted near the waist and the design more pronounced (an easy alteration). I’m also not happy with the sleeves currently, they’re a lot less gathered than in the pattern photos, so they end up just looking a bit lumpy. This is the length of the dress on me unaltered, it’s longer than in the pattern pictures but I quite like it so will try wearing the dress at this length before making any decision to shorten.

The Maker's Atelier The Asymmetric Gather Dress

The Maker's Atelier The Asymmetric Gather Dress

This fabric is a crepe purchased in the John Lewis sale. I thought it would be perfect for this pattern, but I actually think a lighter weight fabric would work better – the gathers end up very pronounced in this mid weight fabric. I think this dress would be lovely in a lightweight drapey wool, but first I’m going to make my planned alterations to the front gather and sleeves and wear this version a while.


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Seamwork Neenah Dress

Seamwork Neenah Dress

This is the Seamwork Neenah Dress one of my #makenine projects, made with a stash fabric of forgotten origin (thanks to the Cora App I won’t be forgetting where I bought fabric in future). Although I can’t remember where I bought this fabric, I do know I bought it with the intention of making Neenah – and a year or so later, here she is!

Seamwork Neenah Dress

Based on my measurements I graded between an XS and S. I cut the sleeves in size XS and initially found them too tight, so unpicked and sewed again with a very narrow seam allowance. I cut two inches off the length of the sleeves, but left the dress length as per the pattern.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I really like the fit of this dress. It skims the body nicely without being clingy. There’s a little bit of pooling at the back, but in a casual style like this I don’t think it’s worth worrying about. It’s worth noting that the turtleneck pattern piece is quite long (it’s folded double in these photos). I’m a big fan of a high neckline, but if you want a smaller turtleneck I’d recommend using a more lightweight fabric, or reducing the height of the pattern piece by up to half.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I whipped this dress up on Friday evening (having previously send the pattern for A0 printing), ready to wear to a sewing meet-up in Birmingham yesterday in celebration of the lovely Bianca returning to us for the weekend. It was a really fun day, lots of nattering and fabric shopping with sewing friends, followed by a Cecille Grey gig in Nottingham. I was absolutely knackered when I fell into bed that night, but it was definitely worth it, and I love making new clothes for special days.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been sticking to my New Year’s Resolution to keep my evenings for my hobbies, instead of allowing work to stretch out into them, and to attend more meet-ups. I’ve been attending the monthly Brummie Yarn Social organised by Sue and Ben in Moseley, and it’s been lovely to see the Birmingham sewists more regularly, as well as to catch-up with a bigger group yesterday.

Seamwork Neenah Dress


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Malhia Kent Remnants Karri Skirt

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

I mentioned in my #2018makenine plans that I intended to make a Megan Nielsen Karri Dress out of woven remnants I purchased from Malhia Kent in Paris.

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

I didn’t have a specific plan in mind when I purchased the remnants (I basically bought all of the loudest patterns and colours), so when I came to cut-out my fabric I had a lot of clashing colours and patterns! I constructed the Karri bodice and skirt sections separately, but decided that they looked mismatched when placed together. So I attached a waistband to the skirt section to make this skirt, and bought a plainer fabric to finish the dress.

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

These Malhia Kent remnants are loosely woven and liable to catch so this might not be the most robust skirt, but I love how it looks. It’s also quite heavy so has a tendency to slip to my hips when I’ve been wearing it for a while. I’ll go back and stabilise the waistband to address that.

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

My Kari Dress out of the rest of the remnants just needs a lining added before it is ready to wear too; I got distracted by something more shiny than a lining, so need to return to it.

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt